Tory Party spent ‘unprecedentedly’ high figure on Rishi Sunak Facebook ads in December

Surge in ads spending shows importance of digital accountability ahead of general election

A photo of Rishi Sunak

The Tory Party has spent an “unprecedentedly large figure” in the last month on advertising for Rishi Sunak’s Facebook page leading to a huge surge in followers, a transparency organisation has found.

Political transparency group Who Targets Me said Rishi Sunak’s spending on his own Facebook page in December was an “unprecedentedly large figure for a UK politician outside of an election period”.

Sunak appeared to buy more adverts in the last three months than Keir Starmer has in the three years and eight months he’s been Labour leader, which Who Targets Me stressed was a reminder of how digital campaigns are set to influence general elections in 2024.  

Spending on Rishi Sunak’s Facebook page topped £42,000 in two weeks, with just over £9,000 spent on Meta adverts on 30th December alone and an additional £11,000 on New Year’s Eve.

According to Who Targets Me, the advertisements brought Sunak’s page a total of roughly 6 million impressions from December 25th to 31st. This has led to the page growing by nearly 100k in followers in the last month, making it now bigger than the main Conservative page, and Keir Starmers. However the official Labour Party page still has a fair hundred thousand followers more.

Advertising is funded by private party money. In November the government announced an increase of 80% on spending limits for political parties in UK General Elections, rising from £30,000 per seat they contest, to £54,000.

Organisations have stressed the increased impact and influence digital campaigning and political advertising will have on general elections in 2024 across the globe, and in turn the need for greater accountability and scrutiny of digital campaigns.

Commenting on the recent surge in Sunak’s advert spending, Who Targets Me noted: “On current polling, Sunak has about a year left as party leader, yet this investment is building his brand and reach, rather than the main party page, which could be used to support individual candidates (and is a useful asset after the next election, whatever the result).”

(Image credit: Simon Dawson / Number 10 – Creative Commons)

Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward, focusing on trade unions and environmental issues

Comments are closed.